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M.E.Prince's picture

Narrow Spaces

By M.E.Prince in Scare Us

How It Rates

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At the age of four, Brook learned that monsters are real, and they live in the narrow spaces.


Brad's picture
Brad from Australia is reading Speculative Fiction Quarterlies July 25, 2012 - 7:47am


I enjoyed this story.

Things I liked:

the personal drama that preceded the actual terror plot. Made the characters seem real/grounded to their location.

The interaction between the siblings, particularly the non-verbal communication which was very strong. To be honest, I think it would have been cool if Tommy was a mute the entire time. The running-for-your-life-while-never-being-sure-how-much-the-brother-you're-trying-to-save-understands-you subplot was exciting.

Effective foreshadowing - monsters and narrow spaces.


Some things that stood out:

The mother is portrayed as being meticulous following the accident, but there's a broken bowl on top of the fridge that hasn't moved for ??? years.

How scary the creature is kinda goes UP and down and UP again. First they're running for their life, then she's like "it'll be fine, they have a shotgun", then it's death death death. Maybe when the creature approaches the house Brook could be more afraid, hoping/praying that they use the shotgun rather than assuming they simply will.


Finally, the ending. I apologise if I didn't read it closely enough, but I wasn't able to ascertain if the monster was super-natural or psychological. E.G. was this a real, physical thing killing the family members, or was Brook having some adverse reaction to the town/the family she'd been avoiding and this was her freaking out, ultimately leading to her actually crashing the car. I know it's common to let the reader draw their own conclusion, but some more hints/consistency in the evidence would have been good. I mean, Mum disappearing into a tiny space vs Dad disembowled in a very physical way is conflcting evidence.

I'm also not sure if the monster was the imaginary friend Mr James.


Overall, good story and easy to read. Thumbs up, no question.

M.E.Prince's picture
M.E.Prince from Georgia is reading A Stir of Echoes July 25, 2012 - 8:24am

Thank you very much for the feedback. (I had to facepalm about the bowl. That one had gotten past me completely.)

As far as the creature goes, it was a real, physical thing (and not the imaginary friend). Between your feedback and the reviews on my workshop submission, I'm seeing a trend. I really need to work on clarity/consistency.

Thanks again!

Ian's picture
Ian from Texas is reading Low Down Death Right Easy by J. David Osborne July 27, 2012 - 3:44pm

Really enjoyed your story. If I was claustrophobic, this would feel validating. I thought you set the stage very well in the beginning. You did well with the dialogue (as someone born and raised in the South I can appreciate how difficult it can be to get it right). Once the monster appears, I thought the tension and pacing were excellent. I love your monster concept. Once I saw where you were going with it, I immediately had mental images of sweaty, sleep-deprived, generally disturbed people locking themselves away in rooms with no cracks under the door, no vents, etc... 

I think my only criticism would be that I was confused that the monster was running around outside - between the woods and the house - at one point, but unless I missed something, was otherwise confined to the "narrow spaces" (great title, by the way). That's a tiny issue. I didn't even think about it until well after I'd read the story.

Well done.

M.E.Prince's picture
M.E.Prince from Georgia is reading A Stir of Echoes July 28, 2012 - 6:26am

Thank you for the review. Dialogue is something I've been working on a lot lately. (As a Georgian, I get so annoyed when people try to Southernify speech by just throwing a few "y'all"s in there, and sometimes used incorrectly.)

I hope the tension/fear carries over for other readers as well : )


Selaine Henriksen's picture
Selaine Henriksen July 30, 2012 - 6:00pm

The relationships within the family made me care when the monster attacked and I was rooting for them.  The attack by the monster came rather suddenly.

M.E.Prince's picture
M.E.Prince from Georgia is reading A Stir of Echoes July 31, 2012 - 1:11am

Thank you very much for reading and voting. I'm glad you enjoyed it : )

Emma C's picture
Class Facilitator
Emma C from Los Angeles is reading Black Spire by Delilah Dawson September 23, 2012 - 10:53am

What a great concept! Yours is one of the few stories I read in this competition which really made me feel frightened and uneasy. One of the scariest things for me is the idea that monsters can lurk in the most mundane, everyday places.

You have a lovely sense of place as well. I felt like I was in small-town Georgia and enjoyed the description of The Pig and the wetlands. My parents live in Bluffton, SC and I felt like I was there, reading this.

The only thing I wondered about, was whether she'd seen anything else in the narrow spaces between the age of four and today.

M.E.Prince's picture
M.E.Prince from Georgia is reading A Stir of Echoes September 24, 2012 - 1:25am

Thank you very much. It was kind of nostalgic to write this. I've been living in Sweden for the past five years, and it's a very different kind of location compared with where I grew up. I really wanted to include some reference to her catching glimpses of things in narrow spaces between childhood and today, but it slowed things down.

Thanks again!